An IIN Review From a Real Student

As I sit here writing this, I’m about one week away from graduating from IIN with a certificate in holistic health coaching. IIN has a steep price tag and also asks for a large time commitment – I know I struggled to find thorough and honest reviews of the program when I was considering it.

So here I am, a fully fledged IIN Holistic Health Coach. I’m ready to peel back the curtains and give you the inside scoop about what it’s like to attend IIN and what value I got (if any) from completing the program.

I’m a big fan of not making my readers scroll all the way to the bottom to get to the good stuff, so I’ll give it to you straight.

While I don’t have any regrets about completing IIN, I’m not sure I personally would go back and make the decision to enroll again if I could do it all over. The program itself is valuable and thorough, but as a content creator I’m not sure I’d enroll again. We’ll talk about why.

I’ll put my disclaimer here up front. IIN has absolutely no idea I am writing this post. I am a real IIN student who paid for that hefty tuition right out of my own pocket. This review will be 100% honest – because I really have no reason not to be. Even though I personally am unsure if I would do this program all over again, I do have referral links for IIN that I will be embedding into this post should anyone choose to enroll. These links do give me a small kickback – no pressure to use them (feel free to click away), but I will include them in this post to help support my site.

Now let’s get into my overall IIN experience including my thoughts on the IIN health coach training program, the pros, the cons, and everything in between.

Read a real IIN review from a real IIN graduate! Kelsey from Blondes & Bagels reviews the health coach program, discussing pros & cons.

Read a real IIN review from a real IIN graduate! Kelsey from Blondes & Bagels reviews the health coach program, discussing pros & cons.

A high level overview of IIN.

The Institute for Integrative Nutrition is an online holistic health coaching program. IIN did at one time host in person programs in New York, but the program today is entirely online and asynchronous. This means you’ll be able to earn a health coaching certificate remotely and on your own time. New modules are released each week for you to complete, but no classes are actually live.

What exactly IS a health coach?

Health coaching is a relatively new field in the greater landscape of nutrition and holistic health. Health coaches help fill in a gap between the more traditional Western healthcare system and, well, people. Western medicine is amazing at treating the symptom, prescribing powerful medicines as needed or conducting life saving procedures and surgery. What Western medicine hasn’t always been the greatest at is treating the source of the problem. Western medicine treats the heart attack, but doesn’t typically include preventative care as it relates to building the lifestyle that can help patients avoid the heart attach in the first place.

Health coaches are trained to look not just beyond, but before the need for medicine at all the lifestyle factors that could be contributing to a person’s overall health. From relationships to movement, health coaches create space in their sessions with clients to explore overall health and wellness – not just diet.

Health coaches can educate clients on different dietary theories from around the world (such as my favorite – the Blue Zones), can help clients learn to read nutrition labels accurately, can help clients set up routines that work for them, and can empower clients to put their health and wellness first.

What are health coaches NOT?

Health coaches are not nutritionists or dietitians – we are not legally allowed to prescribe dietary advice or plans. If any health coach does prescribe a dietary plan to you, run in the opposite direction, don’t walk.

A good health coach who abides by the law will never make tangible suggestions when it comes to diet, exercise, or health. A good health coach serves as a safe space for clients to open up about their goals and roadblocks, and work through those goals and roadblocks with an advocate who both values and understands the importance of total wellness. Health coaches make great partners to general practitioners and in wellness centers.

Do health coaches need to have any certification?

This is where health coaching gets dicey – no, health coaches do not need any formal education or certification because a “health coach” isn’t an officially recognized healthcare provider. Unfortunately anyone can call themselves a health coach and accept clients.

So…is IIN legit?

Here’s where IIN comes in. The Institute for Integrative Nutrition helps add legitimacy to a field that really is legitimate – but isn’t well regulated. By completing the IIN program, students receive a certification in holistic health coaching, so clients can know that their health coach prioritized education and training, and is operating legally. Participating in a health coaching certificate program also can give clients comfort that the coach is truly investing in their career.

IIN is absolutely legit, but it is a bit of a cash cow. Because there isn’t any legal “need” to be certified as a health coach, IIN’s program is essentially a giant cash grab. This also applies to other competitive online nutrition programs such as the Nutritional Therapy Association NTP program.

Sure, I do truly believe the founder (Joshua) wants to inspire and empower a new generation of wellness professionals – but I also think it’s important for prospective students to understand that you can health coach without paying thousands of dollars to become certified to do so. IIN (and NTP, etc) is essentially continuing education to help students build a more legitimate coaching business. These programs aren’t a requirement to actually become a health coach nor do they dictate if you will become a successful health coach.

Read a real IIN review from a real IIN graduate! Kelsey from Blondes & Bagels reviews the health coach program, discussing pros & cons.

IIN curriculum – what you’ll learn on the road to earning your health coach certificate.

IIN boasts a big, thorough curriculum in which students learn over 100 different dietary theories from all over the world. IIN doesn’t subscribe to the ideology that any one dietary theory is the right theory, but rather that we are all bioindividuals and that bioindividuality should be taken into account when assessing what wellness plans make sense for the individual. For example, dairy can wreak havoc on one individual, but be part of a healthy diet for another.

The format of all the IIN modules is delivered as online, asynchronous lectures from a variety of IIN experts and guest speakers – some of them are very well known! Each module typically contains 2-5 hours of lectures along with readings and notes to compliment the videos.

Along with the dietary theories, IIN also includes a fair amount of modules dedicated to the actual business of health coaching. There are modules on marketing, social media, and finance.

IIN does allow you to download curriculum guide, where you can see an overview online of the program, including all the topics covered in the school.

How much does IIN cost?

It’s impossible to really give a straight answer as to the cost of IIN because the truth is most IIN graduates paid different amounts. The price of the program is constantly changing (going up!), but IIN is also frequently offering different promotions. I entered the program during the summer of 2020, when IIN was having special pricing.

What I can tell you is that at my time of registration, the full price of the program was being quoted at just under $7,000 USD. IIN is an investment and it is not inexpensive to become an Integrative Nutrition health coach.

The good news here is that tuition is the only Integrative Nutrition cost – there are no other course materials required to purchase in IIN’s program.

How long is IIN program?

At the time of my enrollment in the program, IIN offered two different speeds of the course. IIN’s original program was structured so that one module opened up per week. With a total of 40 modules, this means the original IIN program takes close to a year to complete (IIN does build in holiday breaks where no new modules are released). IIN also offers an expedited program, where two new modules are released weekly (for a total of a six month program).

Who I am and why I chose to enroll in IIN.

Hi, hello! I’m Kelsey. I’m a California based content creator and social media manager. Prior to my IIN courses, I had no background, experience, or training in anything related to health or wellness.

Honestly, I chose to enroll in IIN because living through a global pandemic made me question a lot of things. I started to look at my blog (with it’s tens of thousands of monthly page views) and my social media (again, with tens of thousands of followers) – and began to feel like a bit of an imposter. I’ve never wanted to be someone with a following. I wanted to be someone who did something who happened to have a following.

I also knew I really love helping people. The goal of my blog – of all my content really – has always been to provide some sort of value. To encourage others to “do better.”

I went deep down the internet rabbit hole and started researching what these feelings meant to me and where I could channel them. I started contemplating going to actual nutrition school to become an R.D. or dietician. I even started talks with several masters programs. Ultimately I ended up at the doorstep of IIN because it seemed like a happy medium where I could learn how to help others in a more formalized fashion and give my content a sense of direction, purpose, and authority.

I want to make it clear I did not enter the program with the intent to actually coach 1:1 and take on individual clients. I enrolled in IIN to learn to “coach” via my content to a broader audience of my readers, followers, and subscribers. This is a very different intention and mindset than the average IIN student – and is why my experience and perspective is so different from the other IIN reviews out there.

Read a real IIN review from a real IIN graduate! Kelsey from Blondes & Bagels reviews the health coach program, discussing pros & cons.

Read a real IIN review from a real IIN graduate! Kelsey from Blondes & Bagels reviews the health coach program, discussing pros & cons.

The things I enjoyed about IIN.

★ IIN’s guest speakers were often amazing, accomplished, and interesting. I really enjoyed the opportunity to consume content from some of the most respected minds in wellness.

★ IIN’s online structure is incredibly flexible. I was able to watch lectures at my own pace and on my own time, allowing me to get my education at a pace that worked for me. This was incredibly important as I currently work full time in addition to running my own business.

★ IIN’s curriculum is broad and all inclusive. I did feel I got a broad, but thorough overview on many different types of dietary theories. I felt like my beliefs were constantly challenged and I was consistently learning new things.

★ Expanding my horizons – and my career opportunities. Although I don’t currently intend to coach 1:1 or consult with companies, I do feel equipped to do so if I should choose to in the future.

The things I did not enjoy about IIN.

★ Coaching calls. IIN requires attendance in four out of six total coaching calls, which are small group phone calls lead by an IIN graduate. I found these calls to be painfully unproductive. I’ve spent far too many years in both corporate America and as an entrepreneur – my time is valuable and I hate wasting it. These calls lacked agendas and structure, which resulted in unproductive chatty conversations that added little to no real value.

★ The business mindset modules were too high level. As someone who has spent years marketing my own content and learning to manage my own finances as a small business owner, I can genuinely say IIN’s modules that focused on marketing and business were far too light. IIN would have been better off creating a separate, dedicated course for marketing and business and redistributing the hours of content on these topics within the health coaching program back into additional health coaching topics. I don’t personally feel that IIN graduates will have all the tools they need to build their business from the ground up with IIN’s business modules alone – additional research, experience, mentors, or courses will likely be needed.

★ The graduation requirements are, um, a bit of a joke. In order to graduate from IIN, you essentially need to pass half of the tests (four total tests), attend four of the six coaching calls, and pay your tuition on time. Graduating from IIN was very easy. Although I did feel I was learning new things, I didn’t necessarily feel the same sense of accomplishment passing an IIN test as I did any of my undergraduate exams. IIN’s exams, if you watched the lectures, were not difficult.

My personal hindsight – did I find IIN worth it?

I don’t regret my time with IIN, but if I had the opportunity to go back in time, I likely wouldn’t repeat it. As a content creator, I did gain more inspiration, knowledge, and authority. I can now create lifestyle content with a more legitimate perspective. But I guess I’m wondering if I really needed IIN to get to this place – or did I maybe just need more confidence?

If you’re hoping to actually be a health coach and take on clients, IIN may be right for you. That being said, I do still question if the program is worth the steep cost. A health coaching certificate can absolutely add legitimacy to your business and help give future health coaches a great foundation.

The reality is, though, that health coaching programs like IIN (and the NTA) are not a requirement to actually be a health coach. These programs are profiting on a group of folks looking to start a business and create a flexible job for themselves. In this way, they’re not dissimilar to any other company that boasts things in their marketing like, “you can work from home!” and “learn to run your own business!” (such as MLMs).

Programs like IIN and NTA are schools for profit. Like any other school for profit, you have to make the call if that investment will be “worth it” to your earning potential in the future.

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